Faith Apprehending the Mystery of Creation
Hebrews 11:3
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God…

The province of faith is the unseen. The past and the future lie all out of sight, and are therefore its undisputed domain. The present is a mixed and compound thing — shared between faith and sight. The apostle takes his first example of faith from the past. Everything that we ourselves have not seen, though it be the most strongly attested of all facts is apprehended by us through faith alone. That which the senses cannot tell us can only be accepted on testimony. The facts of history come to us in books. In many cases there is a conflict of testimony, occasioning either a perpetual difference of opinion or an occasional reversal of opinion with regard to the events or the characters of a past nearer or more remote. Christian faith also rests upon testimony. In this it is like all belief in things not seen. The difference lies in the source of the testimony. History is written and received on what professes to be human testimony. Christian faith believes itself to have the word of God Himself for its evidence and its authority. To ascertain this Divine testimony is an anxious and responsible task. First of all these disclosures for which faith is demanded, is that one of which the text speaks — the creation of the universe by the fiat of Almighty God. We have here — none can dispute it — a subject lying altogether in the province of faith. Either faith, or nothing, can apprehend this fact. Not only is it a thing out of sight, as all the past is; not only is it a thing belonging to the most remote past, inasmuch as it involves that fact which is the condition of all facts: more than this — it is that one fact of which by the nature of the case there can be no human testimony; the origination of the creature itself is the very subject of the revelation, and if it be true — in other words, if it have any witness — that truth must be one of God's "mysteries," that witness must be God alone. We will look for a moment into the particulars of the statement. "By faith." It is by an exercise of that principle which has been called above the assurance of things unseen. "By faith we understand," we apprehend, or grasp with the mind, that fact which follows. Here mind is set in motion by faith. And that as to a fact — a fact of the pre-Adamite past — a fact which may lie long millenniums before human existence — but a fact, of which the results and consequences still are and are mighty. What is this fact? "That the worlds have been framed," settled, or fitted in order and coherence, "by a word of God." The word here used for "the worlds" is very peculiar. It is that word which, properly meaning "ages" or "periods," is applied to the material universe as an existence not in space only but in time — having a vast succession of ages and periods inside eternity, as well as a vast expansion of parts and substances inside immensity. The same word occurs in the first chapter — "By whom also He made the worlds." Now the point of the statement lies in this — not that faith apprehends the existence of matter, or the order, the beauty, the variety, the adaptation of matter, or even the fact, taken by itself, of the non-eternity of matter: these things are not in the special province of faith; some of them are matters of sight, others are matters of theory; the action of faith is this — she grasps the revealed fact, that the material universe, seen to exist, surveyed by the senses in its manifoldness and its harmony, was originally framed "by a word of God." Once more, the end and result of this "framing by a word." "So that things which are seen" — or, according to the true reading, "the thing which is seen" — speaking of the whole sum of created being, the vast mass and aggregate of the material universe — "the thing which is seen hath not come into being out of things which appear." The original of the universe was itself created. God Himself is the alone eternal, as He is the alone self-existent. The subject before us is deeply important, specially seasonable, and directly practical.

1. First of all, it is essential to the right posture of the creature towards the Creator.

2. Not only the posture of the soul, but the whole management of the life, depends upon this primary principle. A thousand motives of self-interest and of gratitude conspire to teach the duty of obedience. We disparage none of these — we want them all. But there is one groundwork of duty which lies at the root of all — and that is, the living vital apprehension of the relationship which cannot be modified of the creature to the Creator.

3. Finally, it is this faith in creation which furnishes the strongest presumption of the truth of redemption itself. He who thought it worth while, having a clear foresight of everything, to call into existence, out of nothing, a world that should be the theatre, and a creature that should be the agent, of sin, may be believed when He says (though we durst not have said it for Him) that He counts us worth redeeming — that He intends to restore to holiness and happiness lives and souls made originally in His image — nay, by a process most wonderful to beings nearest His throne, to introduce "a dispensation of the fulness of times," in which to gather together all the scattered elements in Jesus Christ, and "in the ages to come to show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us" in the Son of His love. It is thus that faith in an unseen past allies itself with faith in an invisible future, and breathes forth in one petition the whole of its confidence and the whole of its hope — "I am Thine: oh save me!"

(Dean Vaughan.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

WEB: By faith, we understand that the universe has been framed by the word of God, so that what is seen has not been made out of things which are visible.

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